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Letter | The ADL Is Wrong. A Zionist Would Dream Of Annexing Judea and Samaria

Editor’s Note: This letter was accepted and published before we were made aware of a social media post by its author that falls well outside the bounds of what The Forward deems acceptable discourse. The social media post has been deleted. We regret the error.

Dear Editor:

I read the ADL’s Kenneth Jacobson’s “The ADL Opposes West Bank Annexation – Because We Are Zionists,” published in The Forward with great dismay.

Opposing annexation of Judea and Samaria into the State of Israel slowly kills the 2,000 year old Zionist dream of returning the Jewish people to its divinely given ancestral home. I am not saying anyone who opposes annexation isn’t a Zionist, but a Zionist would dream of annexing Judea and Samaria.

If a Zionist maintains that Judea and Samaria isn’t the ancestral home of the Jewish people, then they’re missing the facts. Cities like Netanya, Tel Aviv and Haifa are not mentioned by God or our ancestors in our historic literature. It is places like Jerusalem, Hebron, Jericho and Beit El that are named. The cities found in Judea and Samaria, what the world calls the West Bank, are the places mentioned in the Torah and our literature.

If a Zionist maintains that Judea and Samaria is the ancestral home of the Jewish people, but shouldn’t be a part of the modern state of Israel because the United Nations said it shouldn’t, then they’ve misunderstood Zionism. The hope to return to Israel wasn’t predicated on the international community’s approval. We strive to return to our complete ancestral land.

Just because the international community said we shouldn’t live in parts of the land of Israel doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Herzl, Ben Gurion, Jabotinsky, and Peres didn’t stop settling in Palestine in the early 1900s because the British said no. They put the Zionist dream into action in the face of international condemnation and pressure.

Can anyone even contemplate the reaction of early Zionists to the argument that we should wait for the international community to get on board before we begin returning to the land? I shudder to imagine the fire and brimstones that would have been hurled in response.

If a Zionist takes a pragmatic approach, and maintains that Judea and Samaria are the ancestral homes of the Jewish people, and the Zionist dream should include Judea and Samaria, but feels that for Israel’s safety and security it is best not to control parts of Eretz Yisrael, I would expect advocacy for a second state to be tempered with expressions of mourning.

King David said, “If I forget you Jerusalem, let my right hand wither.” Giving up parts of Israel for the health of the rest of Israel should be seen as amputating a limb to stop infection from spreading to the rest of the body.

Rabbi Kook famously mourned on the night of the first Israel Independence Day for while we finally had autonomy over so much of our land, we had acquiesced to the abandoning of so much of it as well. The sense of mourning over forsaking our land is absent from the two state solution/anti-annexation camp.

Just as our ancient ancestors, our more recent brethren of exile, and the founding fathers of Zionism all longed for a return to ALL of Eretz Yisrael, we should as well. If the opportunity presents itself to make Eretz Yisrael whole again, we should grab it.

The international community hesitated — and some still hesitate — to support a Jewish homeland, but today the world’s sole super power could back Israeli re-acquiring of Judea and Samaria. We should work fast to acquire all of our land under our sovereignty. Our Zionist ancestors would be proud of us for following their dreams.

Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is a Rebbe at Yeshivat Migdal Hatorah in Modi’in.

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